One thing I have a lot of from this trip is video. Moments that I was able to save. They tell only snippets of what happened, but sometimes when you string them together, they tell more of a story then you ever thought.
So this is an attempt at a story. Just like these writings are trying to tell a story. I hope you enjoy it
Talker always holds a special place in my heart.
I met him in passing just north of Erwin, TN while I was hanging out with Rob Bird, but I never actually talked to him until Kincora Hostel. He had been hiking with Johnny Thunder, Burgundee, Saga, Delorean, Skittles and Rambo. They are all pretty awesome people, but Talker is special.
Talker is a wonder person: intelligent, witty, mature and incredibly funny. But he does have a tendency to get involved with silly silly bets. Bets that no one has a chance of winning.
One of those took place in Damascus, at Trail Days.
Our medium of exchange was slap bets and ice cream novelty bets. You could bet on anything and we routinely did. Everything from how many nutri-grain bars one could eat (Saga got to 12 out of her 25 she thought she could do) to where you would end up that day.
At Trail Days, Talker tried the impossible.
Talker took a slap bet, thinking he could eat a 100 pop-tarts.
To be fair, he probably wasn’t in a sober state of mind when this bet was proposed, but he took it without a second thought. The bet was as follows: 100 poptarts before 10pm. He could get up at anytime and start eating, there would be a mix of flavors and they didn’t have to stay in his body for longer than it took to swallow them. He could purge himself anytime.
All this for the opportunity to slap Johnny Thunder.
Talker got up around 8am and decided to make an honest effort to start. He started with fruit flavored toaster pastries around 9am. He didn’t have any water to start, which was the beginning of his downfall.
“These feel like rocks in my stomach. Like a giant brick of awful”
After only 5 pop-tarts, I think Talker started to realize that this might be a bad idea. At 7 he decided it was time to pound some water.
“I need to drink like a gallon of water. Something. Because this is terrible”
At pop-tart 11 he decided he need to puke. He tried. He really did. But he just couldn’t.
“It feels like they are all glued together in there.”
He had consumed strawberry, blueberry, confetti cake and found that he couldn’t get rid of them. This didn’t bring any hope for finishing. He shrugged his shoulders however and decided to press on. Right on into a new box. Of Cinamon.
3 more pop-tarts, more water and another attempt to remove pop-tarts from his system yielded no results. Pop-tart 14 seemed like a terrible idea to have tried to eat.
“If I stand on my head, maybe that’ll help with the puking right? Gravity will help…”
It’s worth a shot right? He got up against a tree, had two people hold his legs and tried to shove his fingers in so he could puke. No joy. No option but to keep going.
He opened a box of fudge pop-tarts.This was a mistake.
Talker somehow managed to eat 17 pop-tarts. We later figured out that if he had eaten all 100, he would have consumed something in the neighborhood of 22,000 calories, enough sugar to put himself into diabetic shock and acquire type 3 diabetes and probably would have been the most miserable human being on the face of the earth.
All this to slap Johnny Thunder
“I’ll never eat pop-tarts again”
5 months later, Talker was again eating pop-tarts in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. He had found the strength to eat those deliciously terrible toaster pastries again. I don’t envy him them.
Johnny Thunder redeemed his slap in a most wonderful way, but that’s a story for another day.
“When this is all over, you’re going to go home and mope. You’ll miss it. Then you’ll open up a new savings account and start putting money in for the next adventure. Because that’s what you’ll feel like you need. A new adventure on another trail.”
When I heard this last year, I didn’t believe it. Why would I want to put myself through more pain and agony. I was already exhausted, tired and starting to worry about the money and I was only 450 miles into my Southbound Appalachian Trail hike. Why would I want to do this again?
I found out why. I learned why I loved the Trail – the people, the places, freedom and solitude but also the camaraderie and love from everyone.
Backpackers are an odd breed. We go out for days, weeks or months at a time, carry our whole lives on our back and survive with just ourselves. It’s the most selfish thing you can do in a way – look out for just yourself. But it’s also the most freeing.
It’s an addiction really. That pull back to the mountains or the flat lands. To the dirt under your feet and the sky above your head with your only true care being what you’ll eat next and if it’ll rain.
So this is a start. A new savings account for a new adventure. What will that next adventure be, when will it happen? I’m not sure yet. It could be the Pacific Crest Trail, it could be a canoe down the Shenandoah River. Whatever it is though, it’ll be mine.
It all starts with the $5.36 in my new savings account.